Saturday, April 02, 2005


I spent all day Friday at the Regional Science Expo with two student explainers from my school. Last year, it seemed like many of the projects were largely the work of a teacher or parent, but this year it seemed like the projects had been done by students with a lot more choice as far as experiment design was concerned. I'd say my school's projects held up pretty well compared to the others at the Region, which made me happy.

I had a few interesting conversations with other teachers and science-folk, but I have to say that six hours at a science fair is a bit, um, long.

One new teacher I talked to works at Taft. Taft is a big, scary high school not that far from my school. At my first school, the stated goal of the 8th grade high school application process was, "No one goes to Taft." It had a reputation as a violent, dangerous place. Recently, the Taft campus was broken up into four or five smaller schools. One is still Taft. I asked this teacher whether she thought splitting up the school was - in the long run - helping turn it around. She said that of the five schools, one was reasonably successful - meaning that while the other four schools have kids who get 1s and maybe 2s on their state tests (on a 1-4 rubric, 4 being the best, 3 being "meeting the standards"), one school has more kids with 2s and maybe an occasional 3. She also said that the small schools were, ironically, leading to more and more crowding - the school would soon have hundreds more kids than it has ever had before - and it has always been overcrowded. She said that a student was arrested the day before and suggested that the police had roughed up the student before arresting him. The kids have to watch out in the halls to avoid getting jumped and - she initially said raped but then took it back - harrassed. And two weeks ago, a body was found in a dumpster on campus.

What would you do about a school like this? Would you teach there? I'm not even going to ask whether you'd send a child there, your own or one that you teach. How much would you want to be paid in order to agree to work there? Ugh.


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